Is it just us, or does every weekend seem to have half the hours of a regular two-day period? After five days of eagerly awaiting Saturday and Sunday, the best days of the week seem to show us no love in return, leaving us high and dry after a whirlwind of social activities, laundry, and general busyness. We probably don’t need to remind you that there are a ton of ways to stay occupied during the weekend, but staying busy is quite different from being productive. And let’s be real – college requires a lot of productivity if you’re hoping to cross the final finish line one day.
If you’re finding your weekends slipping away without much to show for them, and you’re wondering how to feel accomplished come Monday morning, you’re in luck. uCribs is back once again with the life hacks you didn’t know you needed, and this time we’re focusing on how to turn your weekends from frenzied to fruitful. Break the cycle with our 9 do’s and don’ts for having a productive weekend.
DO: Plan your weekend ahead of time.
Hoping to have a truly productive weekend? If so, do yourself a favor and don’t go into it blind. It will only tempt you into doing the non-productive stuff that you’re trying to refrain from! Instead, create a plan for your time off, so come Saturday morning, you know exactly what your goals are for the next two days and can work to effectively accomplish them. Don’t worry about creating an hour-by-hour breakdown, which will only create unnecessary pressure. It’s the weekend, after all. Keep things simple by listing your must-do items, leaving some room for flexibility and fun.
DON’T: Pack your weekend before it even begins.
With so much going on Monday through Friday, it’s easy to push the non-essential stuff to the weekend. If you’re that friend consistently choosing Sunday brunch over Wednesday dinner before heading home for hours of necessary – yet incredibly tedious – apartment cleanup, it’s clear to see why your weekends feel taxing but remain largely unproductive. So, start scheduling activities usually reserved for the weekend during the weekday. This will free you up for more important matters come Saturday or Sunday— even if your idea of “important matters” is taking a well-deserved break from the grind. Hey, your secret’s safe with us!
DO: Use timers to help you stay on-task.
If you’re like us, then you know how quickly the weekends seem to fly by. One minute you’re prepping for a productive weekend and the next… wow, it’s already Sunday night, and the only thing you accomplished involved you, your couch, and your Roku remote! No judgment, but next time, avoid this common scenario by using alarms to keep tabs on the time. One of our favorite hacks is to set a timer, devote that time fully to the task at hand, and take a break once the alarm sounds. You may be surprised by how productive you can be in thirty minutes or an hour when other, more exciting activities await. With this technique at your disposal, you’ll find that your to-do list is way more manageable than you initially thought.
DON’T: Try to do every little thing you have in mind.
If you’re more Type A than your roommates, then your weekend to-do list probably involves making a grocery run, re-organizing your desk, meeting your freshman year roommate for coffee… and approximately 20 other things—give or take. See how you’re setting yourself up for failure before the weekend even begins? In order to be truly productive, you’ll want to focus on the tasks that really matter, so practice some good, old-fashioned prioritization to make sense of the items on your to-do list. Sure, there may be weekends that call for some intensive labor (midterms, anyone?), but more often than not, you can knock off a few must-do items and still feel a sense of accomplishment come Monday morning.
DO: Spend your mornings wisely.
Ever notice how sleeping in sets the tone for your day? Every now and then, extra shut-eye gives us a much-needed energy boost, but usually, Saturdays spent sleeping until noon turn into movie marathons complete with pizza, pajamas, and zero productivity. You’re already used to waking up early-ish, so when you naturally arise on the weekends, don’t “snooze” your inner alarm clock by going back to bed. Instead, get up and get moving. Take a walk, do some light cleaning, or brew some coffee and reflect on the day ahead. Plus, if you start chipping away at any assignments you might have earlier in the day, you’ll likely find that putting in some work before brunch is all you need to get ahead for the week.
DON’T: Fall into a social media black hole.
We know – social media seems completely unavoidable these days, but that doesn’t change the fact that these digital lifelines are serious time suckers when you’re trying to be productive. There’s nothing wrong with checking up on friends’ cool weekend activities, but don’t expect to get much done if you’re glued to your smartphone. When it’s time to get down to business, put your phone away or install a social media-blocking app. Besides freeing up hours of precious time, staying off your phone can put you in a more productive mindset where you won’t be thinking about checking the Instagram story progression of your classmate’s killer road trip to California. Come on, FOMO never helped anyone, so it’s high time to get on your own grind.
DO: Shake up your routine a bit.
When you’ve got some serious work ahead of you, it can be tempting to lock yourself in your room after swearing to your roommates that you’ll only emerge for bathroom breaks and coffee runs. While we admire your dedication, there’s nothing wrong with getting your hustle on in a different environment. Productive weekends can even be fun in the right atmosphere! So, if you’ve been meaning to check out that new coffee shop but keep defaulting to your cluttered study space in your off-campus apartment, then break the routine by shaking things up a bit! Even if you’re grinding your Saturday and Sunday away, you can at least treat yourself to some interesting scenery in the meantime.
DON’T: Wrap your weekend without rewarding yourself.
Did you make it through your productive weekend unscathed and feel pumped for the week ahead? Congratulations! But don’t let it stop there! We say that this achievement calls for a reward of equal caliber. Seriously, though, designating a Sunday night reward – like a special trip to your favorite fro-yo shop – will provide you with something to look forward to at the end of the weekend. It will also serve as an excellent motivator when you find yourself at a mental roadblock, trying to forget that you’d rather be doing anything other than the assignment in front of you. Dedicating yourself to a productive weekend is no small feat, so when that fro-yo craving kicks in, we say, go for it—once you reach an appropriate stopping point, of course!
DO: Schedule some downtime – no matter the length of your to-do list!
Okay, so you might not be expecting this point on a list of productivity tips, but downtime is important. No matter how awesomely productive you intend your Saturday or Sunday to be, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Even the most successful people schedule free time for themselves, and numerous studies support the short- and long-term benefits of regular rest. Don’t have time to catch a movie or treat yourself to a nice meal? Try spending a few minutes alone, while you think about the past week and the week ahead. It might sound crazy, but doing this can put you in a calmer, more grateful mindset before Monday comes at you with even more things to do. Ahh, a college student’s work is never done, is it?
When you’re a college student, it’s crucial to soak up as much fun as possible – that’s what the whole college experience is about, right? But it’s also equally crucial to make sure that your work ethic stays on point when assignments start piling up and a productive weekend is needed. Next time you find yourself facing a weekend that actually resembles the weekday, keep these tips in mind for a productive – and, hopefully, pleasant – weekend that you can be proud of.